In Lubianka’s Shadow

In Lubianka’s Shadow

  • The Memoirs of an American Priest in Stalin's Moscow, 1934-1945

  • by Léopold L. S. Braun, AA

  • 454 pages, 6.00 x 9.00

  • Hardcover | 9780268021993 | October 2006


In Lubianka’s Shadow chronicles the extraordinary life of a young American Catholic priest, Father Léopold Braun, who, as pastor of a small Catholic church near the Lubianka political prison in the heart of Moscow, witnessed Stalin’s purges, the Soviet government’s campaign against organized religion, and the destruction of World War II. These memoirs, recently discovered in the archive of Fr. Bruan’s Assumptionist order by Soviet scholar Gary Hamburg, offer an intimate account of Fr. Braun’s valiant effort to uphold Christian worship in the only Catholic church allowed to operate in Stalin’s Moscow.

Posted to Moscow in 1934 as chaplain of the United States embassy, Father Braun served the embassy staff and local parishioners in the Saint Louis des Français Church at a moment when Stalin’s anti-religious campaign was reaching a crescendo. He describes the Soviet government’s intimidation and arrest of his parishioners, police surveillance of the church building, and personal harassment designed to force him out of the country. Father Braun’s responses to these pressures—sometimes amusing, sometimes heart-rending, but always intelligent and soulful—tell us much about the capacity of ordinary people to respond to extraordinary circumstances. Under his pen, Soviet society comes alive, with its citizens’ poverty, cynicism, humor, and courage on full display.

Accompanying the memoirs is an introductory, historical essay by G. M. Hamburg. In Lubianka’s Shadow is required reading for anyone interested in modern Russian history and for those concerned about the survival of religious faith under political assault.